Vincent Sipp left the family winery Sipp-Mack in Hunawihr in 2007 and set up shop on his own at Domaine Agapé on the edge of the village of Riquewihr. According to my dictionary, the word agape means variously: ‘a state of wonder or amazement’, or ‘love’ or even ‘a meal celebrated as a sign of love’. And according to Vincent’s delightful helpmate who welcomed us, all of the above are included in the concept of the domaine’s wines. I rather like the suggestion that they’re set to a) knock your socks off, b) seduce you and c) make a loving match with food.
The domaine consists of around 9 hectares of vines, around a third of them in Grands Crus in Riquewihr, Ribeauvillé and Hunawihr (Schoenenbourg, Osterberg and Rosacker respectively). They make 50-55,000 bottles p.a., and do a brisk business in Belgium and Denmark (the Danes are good clients of Alsace and its wines – no wonder my book Alsace Gastronomique went into a Danish edition).
This is a small, simple and delightfully informal winery – perched on a bench in the cellar/despatch room we worked our way through 12 wines, from a pale straw, aromatic, fruity/dry Pinot Blanc Auxerrois Expression (€7) right up to a sublime, silky, long-lasting ’07 Gewurz Sélection de Grains Nobles (check the website for the price, it’s not made every year). In all, an admirably coherent range of straight, upright, clean-as-a-whistle wines. There’s a helpful dryness indicator on the back label in the form of a pictogram numbered 1-6 (1 being dry and 6 sweet). Entry-level wines are labelled Expression, Grands Crus are given full credit and late-harvested are labelled Helios, on account of all that sunny ripeness.
STOP PRESS: Eric Asimov in The Pour (New York Times Dining & Wine) recently recommended Domaine Agapé’s Crémant, Émotion, which retails in the US for about $20.
After the tasting, we tottered down into the town for lunch at the Brendelstub – a fave little bistro-style place on the main street (almost opposite Hugel) in a classic, half-timbered building done up in modern/funky style with electric colours, a good playlist and really decent, quite quirky food (rare for Alsace, particularly on the Route des Vins): think salads with scallops and prawns or with goat’s cheese in an almond crust, choucroute tout canard “Made in Alsace” (local duck done en confit with home-made choucroute), farmyard chicken or lobster done in the wood-fired oven or the rotisserie, plus a fair few Asian-inspired dishes which match perfectly with the more aromatic Alsace wines. Excellent selection by the glass, including an Agapé Gewurz – tho’ not that wicked Helios SGN 😦
10 Rue des Tuileries
Tel. : 03 89 47 94 23
48 rue du Général De Gaulle, Riquewihr
Tel. : 03 89 86 54 54